I never know what to expect when I serve my guests my cashew cream cheeze. In my early days of making non-dairy cheese, a British guy exclaimed "This is NOT cheese!" after being offered a piece of my sunflower cheese. It stung.
But it also made me even more determined to develop a recipe which will satisfy any vegan cheese lover. I racked my brain to remember how dairy cheese tasted like. My late aunt who worked in London used to bring back lots of cheese during her visits home. I tried really hard to remember what those tasted like. I remember eating cheese platters at the hotel buffets on company trips to Singapore, US and elsewhere. Some guys I dated would order cheese to impress me on dates. I remember buying a lot of cheese when I was in Italy because my ex loved them. (Yes, I did eat a lot of cheese, I'm so sorry cows!!🙊) So those were my references.
I bought Artisan Vegan Cheese book by @miyokoscreamery and tried out her recipes. I experimented with the various cheese recipes in @matthewkenneycuisine's Plantlab book. I studied @marystestkitchen YouTube videos. I tested out Chef Amber Shea's cheese recipes. I made @therawchef tree nut cheeses.
And I brought them to vegan meetups. I found the courage to offer them to people from UK, Europe, the US, and even France (gasp!) and they all gave me the nod of approval.
It's still hard to gauge whether a batch of cheese will turn out the way I expect it to be. The cashews are soaked for at least 8 hours to get that creamy texture. It gets rinsed twice, drained, and then processed. I add in my water kefir grains as a live, natural fermenting agent and send it love and happy thoughts and trust it to ferment for the next 24 hours.
If Mr Jazz Guitarist walks into my kitchen and asks me what's that smell, I know that the fermentation has gone well and I can proceed to flavour it in the way I want. I notice that I prefer subtle flavours but Malaysians tend to lean towards strong, intense, salty ones so I need to create a balance between what I prefer and what my guests want.
I hope you enjoy the combination of flavours, textures and colours that the carrot lox, sunflower crackers and cashew cheese bring to your palate when you savour them this Saturday, 2 March at the Golden Night Supper Club at Fittie Sense where I will be presenting a 5-course raw vegan gourmet dinner together with highly in demand private Chef Tina Barrat. Thank you for trusting this Malaysian Chinese chef in making raw vegan cheese 🙏